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Lemonade For America – A Nonprofit Corporation

Just a short post:

We keep hearing about all these lemonade stands around the country being shut down by bureaucrats in municipalities because the kids haven’t obtained the requisite permitting.  It’s a shame, because running a lemonade stand in the summertime is something that children have traditionally done to introduce themselves to entrepreneurship and running a business – they’re being held back by the red tape.

I have an idea:  some enterprising person should establish Lemonade For America, LLC.   Its purpose would be to help youngsters in municipalities across the country obtain the permits they need to do business at a reduced cost.  To help them navigate the paperwork and fast-track their lemonade stand, it should take less than two weeks from application to approval.  LFA doesn’t make the lemonade and it doesn’t distribute the lemonade, but it works as a kind of clearing house that gets everyone’s documentation straight and works with local governments to lower the barrier to entry for these most local of all local businesses.

Let’s say, for example, that for a $25 fee, Lemonade for America would contact your local government and help you obtain the required permit, or a special permit that is strictly for these kinds of lemonade stands.  Local governments would still make money, the kids could still have their lemonade stands without running afoul of anything, and with enough buy-in across the country it would be a bonafide way for young entrepreneurs to break into the summer lemonade stand business without worrying about being shut down by rule-bound municipalities. 

I see the biggest problem in being drawing up the legal documentation and getting local municipalities to participate in the Lemonade for America initiative.  But if just a few hundred local governments accepted the framework, it could be legitimized and let the kids run their lemonade stands in the summertime without fear of being slapped with a fine or shut down.  

In my vision of it, Lemonade for America would be a nonprofit corporation that just sets a few clear standards and works with local governments to get special licenses for lemonade stands approved.   The focus would be on a very, very low up-front fee and enough expert advice and municipal participation to make it painless for your local entrepreneurs to get started with minimal cost, but still satisfy the regulatory requirements of townships and boroughs across the country. 

I see the application process being something simple that parents can be involved with their children in doing – one page, a notarized signature from a parent or guardian on the agreement, and a stamp from the local jurisdiction.  Follow that up with a Lemonade for America Facebook page, a Lemonade for America Newsletter, and some annual meetups.  Simple and low cost and in good faith from end to end - easy and inexpensive to do, and it clears away the patchwork jumble of red tape across the county and gets the kids doing what they want to do – run a bonafide microbusiness that they won’t have to worry will get shut down because of abstruse over-regulation.

Then we could get these sad stories of kids having lemonade stands shut down by the cops in the middle of the summer out of the news and make them a thing of the past.

“Lemonade for America – The Kids Make the Lemonade, We Make It Easy.”

The kids keep the profits from their venture.  They buy the lemons, they set the prices, etc.  All LFA does is help them get through the red tape.

What do you think?

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